Memory is a fundamental element of human life yet it remains one of the greatest mysteries of modern biological research. Memory loss through neurological disease, such as Alzheimer's, or head trauma, has a devastating impact on the quality of life. Understanding the molecular process of memory would therefore provide potential avenues for mnemonic therapy. The long- term goal of this proposal is to understand how memories are formed, consolidated and retrieved at the molecular, cellular and neural network level. We use the fruit fly Drosophila as our model system because it can learn, it has a relatively simple brain and it is amenable to a sophisticated genetic approach. We will use the most up-to-date technology available with a new appetitive long-term memory assay to investigate how conserved signaling molecules function within the context of defined neural circuits to encode memory. We expect that these studies will have a major impact on strategies for human mnemonic therapy.

Public Health Relevance

Memory is a critical element of human existence. Consequently, memory loss through neurological disease, such as Alzheimer's, or head trauma, severely impacts quality of life. Our work will provide a fundamental understanding of the cellular, molecular and neural circuit processes of memory providing potential avenues for mnemonic therapy in humans.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Neurobiology of Learning and Memory Study Section (LAM)
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Osborn, Bettina D
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University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Perrat, Paola N; DasGupta, Shamik; Wang, Jie et al. (2013) Transposition-driven genomic heterogeneity in the Drosophila brain. Science 340:91-5
Huetteroth, Wolf; Waddell, Scott (2011) Bringing fly brains in line. Nat Methods 8:461-3
Pitman, Jena L; Huetteroth, Wolf; Burke, Christopher J et al. (2011) A pair of inhibitory neurons are required to sustain labile memory in the Drosophila mushroom body. Curr Biol 21:855-61
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Pitman, Jena L; Waddell, Scott (2009) Sleep: what goes up must come down. Curr Biol 19:R480-2
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Pitman, Jena L; DasGupta, Shamik; Krashes, Michael J et al. (2009) There are many ways to train a fly. Fly (Austin) 3:3-9

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